Sermon Illustrations

Faith to Hear the Silent Notes

for Conversations in the Marketplace

by Pastor Brad Berglund (First Baptist Church) Feb 6, 2009

At a recent prayer meeting, I was told of a young pianist who is working on a doctor’s degree in performance. According to his professor, the young man has abilities that leave his peers far behind. To the casual listener, his mastery of the piano is both enjoyable and amazing, but to the informed listener, his mastery is nothing short of incredible. Personally, I believe his mastery of the piano is a beautiful illustration of what Biblical faith is all about.

You see, this pianist has limited hearing. He is able to hear and enjoy the notes in the lower register of the piano, but as the notes get higher, they become dimmer to his ear. There are sections of the keyboard which he never hears. Had this young pianist simply chosen to play those pieces which he can fully appreciate, he would still be outstanding. Yet this pianist has chosen to play notes that he will never hear. Those notes are validated to him by other sources: by the printed score, by the directives of his teacher and coach, by the touch of his fingertips and the sense of vibration from the instrument. By faith, he strikes each note per instruction. He does not personally sense the consequence of his actions, but his actions leave a hearing audience in awe.

Pride often prevents us from accepting and acting upon truth that we do not personally or immediately experience. Our President, in his inaugural address declared that he would like to restore science to its rightful place. I am not sure what he means, but I know that there are others in positions of authority who would like to rid science and higher learning of the reality of faith. If something cannot be demonstrated in a laboratory, it must be dismissed as harmful superstition. Anything that cannot be validated by taste, touch, smell, hearing, or sight, must not be real. Such reasoning assumes that skepticism, not faith, is the true companion of true science. This is wrong.

What exactly is faith? When one compares the contemporary Webster’s dictionary with the original, it is clear that contemporary American thinking has gutted faith of its vital organs. In Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th edition, 2003), faith is the “firm belief in something for which there is no proof,” or “something that is believed especially with strong conviction.” Thus faith is both anti-scientific and unreasonable.

In contrast, Noah Webster’s original dictionary (1828) declares faith to be: “Belief; the assent of the mind to the truth of what is declared by another, resting on his authority and veracity, without other evidence; the judgment that what another states or testifies is the truth.” Faith is not a baseless belief that you are right and everyone else is wrong; it is the ability to take someone at his word and act upon it in confidence. Faith rests in the character of the one who says, “Trust me.” If the one trusted is faithful and true, the listener can respond in confidence, like sheep following the good shepherd.

The modern concept of faith contradicts the Biblical statement: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. - Hebrews 11:1.” Make no mistake, the reason faith is treated in a patronizing manner today is not because science makes it irrelevant. The reason contemporary faith is weak is because we have educated ourselves away from the Person of Faith, believing that only what we immediately sense or prove is real. Some call it “societal evolution” or “progressive thinking”; the Bible calls it foolishness and reprobation (Romans 1:22-23, 28).

As with the remarkable pianist, the disciple who places his faith in the God of the Bible discovers the evidences which transcend the five senses. We have the written word of our Master, which the Apostle Peter called it a “more sure word of prophecy” that surpasses what we sense naturally. His written word says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” People who responded in belief to His word serve as examples of faith in Scriptures, American history, and even today. These modern disciples instruct us in the way of practical, contemporary faith.

According to the Bible, one of the greatest evidences of our faith today is answered prayer. It is easy for those who have been disappointed with their prayer life to reject prayer. But when God repeatedly answers in inexplicable ways, it is like the pianist sensing the sound through the vibrations from the piano.

Those who have no concept of Biblical faith reject it as nonsense and reap the consequence of their unbelief. “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. - 1 Corinthians 1:18-19.”

Biblical faith believes both in God’s existence and in His charity. He rewards those who diligently seek Him. However, few today want to accept God at His word. What about you? Do you have faith to believe in the notes which God says exist, but you cannot hear? If you do, reach out by faith today, and play the Master’s Etude of Life. It is written plainly in His Book (John 3:16).

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